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Adverse Reactions

Some part of me is always in devil’s advocate mode, looking for unintended side effects or ulterior motives for some proposal. As part of that, the harder someone tries to sell me something, or the more someone uses emotion in place of logic and rationale, the harder I look for the motivation for the message.

So, “Exercise is wonderful! It’s free! It’s like a wonder drug! Why aren’t all of us doing this?” I read it on slate.com, so it must be true!

I’ll admit that some kinds of exercise don’t require much financial investment. Walking after dinner several times a week shouldn’t require new shoes or clothing, and if you live in a safe neighborhood, you usually can walk right there! You might not want to walk in the clothes and shoes you ate dinner in, but that’s a minor matter, isn’t it?

I hope, though, that you don’t overdo it can give yourself a myocardial infarction. That could really ruin your day. Granted, if you get one of those, the doctors will put you on a regimen of exercise; apparently it normally does more good than harm. But those exercise-induced MIs can really make you reschedule your week.

I also hope you don’t exercise to the point of exhaustion. It’s one thing to take an hour for a half hour of bike riding (ten minutes to set up; thirty minutes to ride; twenty minutes to put things away and shower); if you have to add an hour-long nap because you’re incapable of moderate exercise and always “go to eleven!” this exercise starts taking lots of time, and as our agents and economics professors always remind us, time is money.

If you get bored with walking and start running, I hope you have good shoes to run in. Good arch support and good lateral support are important, or so I’m told. I hope that doesn’t mean I just shamed you into spending $100 you don’t have on running shoes; that wasn’t my intention.

I won’t be running with you, at least not for a while. When I tried running in the past, even at a lighter weight, I starting having knee pains. I need to lose lots of weight before subjecting my knees to that stress and load.

You live in a safe neighborhood, don’t you? Good sidewalks to walk on, and not too many corners you have to avoid because of the drug dealing, correct? Those factors really aren’t exercise’s fault, are they? But they may explain why you drive to the corner store when your parents might have walked the same distance for the same chore.

Do try to avoid hitting your head while exercising. The head doesn’t care if its due to a bike accident, a football play, or a swimming backstroker losing track of where the wall is: it can only take so many hard knocks before signs of traumatic brain injury start showing up.

But, yes, exercise is great! It helps with cardiovascular health, and there are lots of signs that it mitigates many of the factors that contribute to depression. Keeping the joints active seems to slow the advance of arthritis, if I remember those studies correctly. Check with your doctor about how your individual current health will influence what sort of exercise you should start with, but by all means, exercise is a wonder drug!

Give or take one or two warnings and possible side effects, of course.

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